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Six Friday Harbor firefighters will climb Seattle’s Columbia Center March 8

Six Friday Harbor firefighters are set to climb Seattle’s tallest building – the Columbia Center — March 8 in the annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb.

The annual climb benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is recognized as the world’s largest individual firefighter competition. A record 1,500 firefighters from across the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Germany are entered in this year’s event.

Local firefighters include Kevin Carroll, 21, Tony Smith, 32, Robert Pauls, 36, Andy Urbach, 41, Zaim Melic, 42 and Jane Hutchinson, 46. All are from Friday Harbor.

Now in its 18th year, the firefighter climb attracts firefighters from 25 U.S. states, three Canadian provinces, New Zealand and Germany. The climb raised more than $530,000 in 2008 and has generated more than $2.1 million since its inception in 1992.

Clad in full bunker gear and breathing apparatus, collectively weighing about 50 pounds, firefighters ranging in age from 18 to 63 will sprint-climb 788 feet in vertical elevation (1,311 stairs / 69 stories) from the Fifth Avenue lobby to the 73rd floor observation deck of the 76-story Columbia Center. At 943 feet, about one-and-a-half times the height of Seattle’s Space Needle, the Columbia Center is the tallest building (by stories) on the West Coast and the 57th tallest building in the world.

During the 2009 climb, LLS will honor eight-year-old Mackenzie Sollars of Tacoma. Mackenzie was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells, at age three and a half. ALL is the most common form of leukemia among children under 19 years old.

In 2008, Seattle Fire Department’s Zach Schade, 41, climbed 1,311 Columbia Center stairs in 11 minutes, 37.20 seconds to capture his second consecutive Scott Firefighter Stairclimb title. The women’s title was won by Reno, Nevada’s Denise Little, 35, in 17 minutes, 34.5 seconds. Both are expected to climb in 2009. Top fund-raising honors went to the City of Buckley Fire for the second consecutive year with over $38,784 in donations.

Sponsored by Scott Health & Safety, the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb is open only to firefighters. The climb gets under way at 9 a.m.

The event is the first of two stairclimbs benefiting LLS during March at Seattle’s Columbia Center. On March 22, the public can tackle the same Columbia Center steps at the 23rd annual Big Climb, which also benefits LLS. To register for Big Climb visit www.BigClimb.org.

An estimated 894,543 Americans are living with leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes. In 2008, an estimated 138,530 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma. New cases of leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma account for 9.6 percent of the 1,437,180 new cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. this year.

For more information on the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb or to contribute to a local firefighter or firehouse participating in the climb, visit www.FirefighterStairclimb.org

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, headquartered in White Plains, N.Y., with 68 chapters in the United States and Canada, is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services.

The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Since its founding in 1949, LLS has invested more than $600 million in research specifically targeting leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Last year alone, LLS made 6.3 million contacts with patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.

For more information about blood cancer, visit www.LLS.org or call the LLS Information Resource Center (IRC), a call center staffed by master's level social workers, nurses and health educators who provide information, support and resources to patients and their families and caregivers. IRC information specialists are available at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

About the Washington/Alaska Chapter
The Washington/Alaska Chapter (www.lls.org/wa) is one of 68 local chapters across the U.S., with additional branches in Canada. Located in Seattle since 1984, the Washington/Alaska Chapter is close to the treatment facilities where patients and families come for lifesaving therapies.

Major annual fund-raising campaigns include Team In Training®, Light The Night® Walk, School & Youth Programs, the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, Big Climb, Winter Pineapple Classic and The Leukemia Cup Regatta.

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